What is the G-20
The Group of Twenty (G-20) Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors was established in 1999 to bring together systemically important industrialized and developing economies to discuss key issues in the global economy. The inaugural meeting of the G-20 took place in Berlin, on December 15-16, 1999, hosted by German and Canadian finance ministers.
The G-20 is the premier forum for our international economic development that promotes open and constructive discussion between industrial and emerging-market countries on key issues related to global economic stability. By contributing to the strengthening of the international financial architecture and providing opportunities for dialogue on national policies, international co-operation, and international financial institutions, the G-20 helps to support growth and development across the globe.
The G-20 was created as a response both to the financial crises of the late 1990s and to a growing recognition that key emerging-market countries were not adequately included in the core of global economic discussion and governance. Prior to the G-20 creation, similar groupings to promote dialogue and analysis had been established at the initiative of the G-7. The G-22 met at Washington D.C. in April and October 1998. Its aim was to involve non-G-7 countries in the resolution of global aspects of the financial crisis then affecting emerging-market countries. Two subsequent meetings comprising a larger group of participants (G-33) held in March and April 1999 discussed reforms of the global economy and the international financial system. The proposals made by the G-22 and the G-33 to reduce the world economy's susceptibility to crises showed the potential benefits of a regular international consultative forum embracing the emerging-market countries. Such a regular dialogue with a constant set of partners was institutionalized by the creation of the G-20 in 1999.
The G-20 is made up of the finance ministers and central bank governors of 19 countries:
- Saudi Arabia
- South Africa
- Republic of Korea
- United Kingdom
- United States of America
The European Union, who is represented by the rotating Council presidency and the European Central Bank, is the 20th member of the G-20. To ensure global economic fora and institutions work together, the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the President of the World Bank, plus the chairs of the International Monetary and Financial Committee and Development Committee of the IMF and World Bank, also participate in G-20 meetings on an ex-officio basis. The G-20 thus brings together important industrial and emerging-market countries from all regions of the world. Together, member countries represent around 90 per cent of global gross national product, 80 per cent of world trade (including EU intra-trade) as well as two-thirds of the world's population. The G-20's economic weight and broad membership gives it a high degree of legitimacy and influence over the management of the global economy and financial system.
The G-20 has progressed a range of issues since 1999, including agreement about policies for growth, reducing abuse of the financial system, dealing with financial crises and combating terrorist financing. The G-20 also aims to foster the adoption of internationally recognized standards through the example set by its members in areas such as the transparency of fiscal policy and combating money laundering and the financing of terrorism. In 2004, G-20 countries committed to new higher standards of transparency and exchange of information on tax matters. This aims to combat abuses of the financial system and illicit activities including tax evasion. The G-20 has also aimed to develop a common view among members on issues related to further development of the global economic and financial system.
To tackle the financial and economic crisis that spread across the globe in 2008, the G20 members were called upon to further strengthen international cooperation. Accordingly, the G20 Summits have been held in Washington in 2008, in London and Pittsburgh in 2009, and in Toronto and Seoul in 2010.
The concerted and decisive actions of the G20, with its balanced membership of developed and developing countries helped the world deal effectively with the financial and economic crisis, and the G20 has already delivered a number of significant and concrete outcomes:
First, the scope of financial regulation has been largely broadened, and prudential regulation and supervision have been strengthened. There was also great progress in policy coordination thanks to the creation of the framework for a strong, sustainable and balanced growth designed to enhance macroeconomic cooperation among the G20 members and therefore to mitigate the impact of the crisis. Finally, global governance has dramatically improved to better take into consideration the role and the needs of emerging of developing countries, especially through the ambitious reforms of the governance of the IMF and the World Bank.
Unlike international institutions such as the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), IMF or World Bank, the G-20 (like the G-7) has no permanent staff of its own. The G-20 chair rotates between members, and is selected from a different regional grouping of countries each year. In 2011 the G-20 chair is France. The chair is part of a revolving three-member management Troika of past, present and future chairs. The incumbent chair establishes a temporary secretariat for the duration of its term, which coordinates the group's work and organizes its meetings. The role of the Troika is to ensure continuity in the G-20's work and management across host years.
Former G-20 Chairs
- 1999-2001 Canada
- 2002 India
- 2003 Mexico
- 2004 Germany
- 2005 China
- 2006 Australia
- 2007 South Africa
- 2008 Brazil
- 2009 United Kingdom
- 2010 Republic of Korea
Meetings and activities
It is normal practice for the G-20 finance ministers and central bank governors to meet once a year. The ministers' and governors' meeting is usually preceded by two deputies' meetings and extensive technical work. This technical work takes the form of workshops, reports and case studies on specific subjects, that aim to provide ministers and governors with contemporary analysis and insights, to better inform their consideration of policy challenges and options.
Interaction with other international organizations
The G-20 cooperates closely with various other major international organizations and fora, as the potential to develop common positions on complex issues among G-20 members can add political momentum to decision-making in other bodies. The participation of the President of the World Bank, the Managing Director of the IMF and the chairs of the International Monetary and Financial Committee and the Development Committee in the G-20 meetings ensures that the G-20 process is well integrated with the activities of the Bretton Woods Institutions. The G-20 also works with, and encourages, other international groups and organizations, such as the Financial Stability Board and the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision, in progressing international and domestic economic policy reforms. In addition, experts from private-sector institutions and non-government organisations are invited to G-20 meetings on an ad hoc basis in order to exploit synergies in analyzing selected topics and avoid overlap.
The country currently chairing the G-20 posts details of the group's meetings and work program on a dedicated website. Although participation in the meetings is reserved for members, the public is informed about what was discussed and agreed immediately after the meeting of ministers and governors has ended. After each meeting of ministers and governors, the G-20 publishes a communiqué which records the agreements reached and measures outlined. Material on the forward work program is also made public.
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